Originally Posted: June 21st, 2020
Updated: July 2nd, 2020

Typewriter Poetry Logo

In 2011, a pink typewriter found me.

A year after graduating from college, I fell in love with a pink 1950’s Royal Deluxe typewriter. I tested out its mechanics by typing stories for my siblings, & asking my friends for prompts. Poems about dinosaurs & sakuras whittled their way onto paper, alongside poetry about life on other planets. There were even requests for an acrostic poem about web design…& a haiku about haikus.

It was an amusing way to pass the time.

Free Poetry at the Canoga Park Art Walk (Photograph by Tiffany)

Soon enough, I started sitting out in public with a cardboard sign (usually recycled from Corrugated Hearts) that said FREE POETRY. On the weekends, I’d post up at local farmer’s markets, art walks, & festivals until–inevitably–someone would be bold enough to ask for a poem. We’d talk, exchange stories, & I’d write them a poem based off our interaction or a subject of their choosing.

I was offered a free spot in the first Canoga Park Artwalk thanks to my all-time favorite arts collective, 11:11. I still remember typing my first poems for strangers, there. I made friends with a dog named Gypsy who suffered from a terminal illness. Met a woman who was in love with her boyfriend but had issues with his unavailable emotional waves. Someone requested a poem about one of my favorite colors, orange; later, they sent me a picture of it hanging on their wall.

Free Poetry at SpaceX / Tesla

Eventually, Typewriter Poetry became my sole (soul) means of travel. I ended up traveling across the country with my typewriter, & the project evolved into a public performance, street art, & busking piece. Beautiful waves of synchronicity guided me, helping me make new friends & find safe spaces to sleep. I relied heavily on the kindness of others & the connections they introduced to continue going.

Typewriter Poetry Billimarie Free Poetry Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square 2014
Free Poetry in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia (Photograph by Tom)

I hitchhiked & typed on street corners, at art parties, farmer’s markets, & art walks. I crashed on the couches of new friends & old. I got lucky enough to walk with the people I loved, but mostly I wandered by myself. I’m eternally grateful to all the amazing friends I made throughout California, Oregon, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Arizona, & Colorado.

As the years passed, my blog grew, & so did the community of people I met who were interested in my story. I crossed paths with other typewriter poets like Dawn X Spectre & Alandra Markman. A photograph of me was even published in the incredible book, The Typewriter Revolution by Richard Polt. I gained amazing opportunities to type Free Poetry at various museums, schools, & tech companies.

Free Poetry at the Literary Carnival (Photograph by Luke)

Artisanal LA offered me a free booth in their festivals, where I had a chance to dress up & type for other vendors & participants. They held markets at really interesting spaces, which meant I had the opportunity to type Free Poetry at Tesla & SpaceX for Valentine’s Day.

The Staten Island Museum invited me for a Valentine’s Day tribute to Betty Bressi, a typewriter artist, where I typed Free Poetry for guests as part of the exhibition.

Typewriter Poetry - Princeton Public Library Annual Gala Beyond Words - Hug
Free Poetry at the Beyond Words gala (Photograph by Melissa)

The Princeton Public Library invited me to type during their annual Beyond Words gala, a gorgeous evening filled with the sounds of an orchestral band, free-flowing wine, good food & good people.

I brought my typewriter with me to raves, to Burning Man, to carnivals–even to the jungles of Mexico for the Rainbow Gathering.

It was a fun trip which, like all trips, is now settling into a new beginning for the decade’s end.

In 2019, I sent friends & family Poetry Care Packages by mail.

The impulse came from wanting to “go dark” on social media, while still keeping in touch with the people I had met at various stages in my life. I found myself searching for ways to keep connected with everyone I met–in-person as well as virtually–through Typewriter Poetry.

As the pandemic of 2020 began, I turned toward Typewriter Poetry once again to pass on a bit of delight. The Poetry Care Package offering took off in a way I never saw coming. It shifted between Quarantine Poetry, to Poems for a Loved One, to Poetry for Kids–all offerings meant to bring a smile to whoever was meant to receive it. I’ve since fallen in love with the marriage between typewriter to paper to envelope, & the painstaking process of handcrafting a personalized package for each person’s request.

#BlackLivesMatter Typewriter Poetry Cards

Personalized Poems, Lovely Letters, & Custom Cards.

Typewriter Poetry’s mission is still the same as it was from the very beginning: to cultivate the magic of playful, spontaneous, non-programmed connections between strangers, family, & friends.

Quarantine Poetry - Typewriter Poetry - COVID19 Care Package: Poetry, Poem, Letter, Flower, Mail Art, Snail Mail
Typewriter Poetry Care Package

These days, I partake in this practice by sending out one-time, weekly, monthly, & seasonal Snail Mail.

Typewriter Poetry Greeting Card

I make Typewriter Poetry Greeting Cards–an eclectic mix of abstract phrases & free association–as a gentle reminder that the free-flow of the nonsensical still has its place in this exceedingly concrete & literal world.

Typewriter Poetry for Kids

By making personally curated Poetry Care Packages for quarantine, loved ones, & kids, I’m hoping to pass along subtle acts of kindness & passing moments of grace. (The humility & satisfaction I tap into with every trip to the mailbox is more than worth the painstaking labor of handmaking each piece.)

An example of a Custom Typewriter Poetry Card

If you’re a customer, you can receive monthly Stakeholder Reports to see where Typewriter Poetry is going, & how I’ve invested the support that you bring.

& finally: anyone can join this conversation by subscribing to the Newsletter I publish every Wednesday. I share my favorite poems, letters, & cards–as well as the stories behind each of them.

As always, thank you for being here. It’s been an honor journeying with my typewriter. I can’t wait to see what this next cycle will bring to us all.

With Love,
Billimarie